Ronaldinho scores the opener - from the spot

FC Barcelona 3-1 Heart of Midlothian FC
From Hearts News at Murrayfield Stadium


The majority of the record Hearts attendance went home disappointed as the home side went down 3-1 to Catalan giants Barcelona. 

The game was still a great occasion for all concerned, with the supporters having something to cheer about when Juho Makela equalised for Hearts after Ronaldinho had put Barcelona ahead for the penalty spot.  The world's best player then put Barcelona in front once again before Dos Santos rounded off the scoring in the second half.

From the kick off it was evident the Hearts players were desperate to prove they could mix it with Barcelona and had the games first real chance 4 minutes in.  Trialist Audrius Ksanavicius skipped past a couple of tackles on the left wing before cutting inside and running into the Barcelona penalty area.  The Barcelona defence recovered, tackling the little Lithuanian just as he was about to pull the trigger.

Juho celebrates scoring an equaliser

Just a minute later Barcelona had a great chance of their own.  Iniesta's corner was headed on to Ronaldinho, the Brazilian steadied himself before placing a low pacey shot through the legs of Berra.  Craig Gordon pulled off a great reaction save to keep the score at 0-0.

Barcelona enjoyed the lion's share of possession and always looked deadly going forward with the front three of Ronaldinho, Ezquerro and Eto'o always troubling the Hearts rearguard and 15 minutes in, they really should have went ahead.  The ball was crossed to the back post where Ezquerro headed back to Xavi.  The Spaniard shot into the ground but the ball bounced over the Hearts defence and onto the head of Eto'o.  From six yards out Eto'o somehow headed over the bar.

Though Barcelona didn't have to wait long to take a well deserved lead.  It occured after Ksanavicius bundled over Zambrotta on the edge of the penalty area.  Ronaldinho stepped up to take the spot kick and fired Barcelona into the lead, sending Craig Gordon the wrong way.

The lead lasted only three minutes.  Velicka won a foul on the edge of the penalty area and Laryea Kingston's free kick was delayed by a minute when a Barcelona support ran onto the park to hand Eto'o a hat and Ronaldinho a scarve.  When the free kick was eventually taken, Kingston flighted the ball to the back post where Berra headed it back into the danger area for Juho Makela to stab the home.  The big Finn was right to celebrate in style, racing off the park towards the celebrating  home support.

Murrayfield would have went ballistic if Ksanavicius had converted a glorious opportunity on 35 minutes and put Hearts into the lead.  Michael Stewart played the winger in behind the Barcelona defence but he wasted the chance after failing to get much on his shot which trickled into the arms of Victor Valdes.

The teams enter to a massive crowd - 57,857

Hearts were to rue that miss as Barcelona regained the lead five minutes before half time.  Sylvinho was released down the left where he flighted a perfect ball into the centre for Ronaldinho.  The Brazilian placed his header back across the rooted Craig Gordon and into the net.

Both teams made multiple chances at half time but it didn't change was happening on the park with Barcelona taking a 3-1 lead five minutes after the restart.  Xavi slipped a great ball out wide to Thierry Henry who darted into the penalty area before squaring the ball for Dos Santos to score an easy tap in.

Henry himself should have extending Barcelona's advantage on 69 minutes.  Bojan Krkic found himself in an acre of space on the right, he slipped in a Henry whose first team shot rattled the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.

Thuram challenges the trialist Audrius Ksanavicius

The action in the second half couldn't quite match up to that of the entertaining first, though when anything did happen it was through the brilliance of Henry and Bojan.  The two combined again on 82 minutes when Henry played through Bojan but the youngster fired over the bar when he really should have hit the target.

The home side struggled badly to create any chances in a frustrating second half.  Saulius Mikoliunas took it upon himself to try and conjure an opportunity out of nothing.  The Lithuanian picked up the ball on the right before cutting inside and shooting from 25 yards out.  Unfortunately for Mikoliunas, the ball swerved away from goal.

The full time whistle went and Hearts had been beaten.  Though there is no shame in losing to one of the greatest teams on the planet.  The sun shone over Murrayfield from start to finish and the 57,857 were treated to some terrific football and some entertaining action as Barcelona showed their superior skill in a much deserved win.

Velicka makes the challenge on Presas

Barcelona: Valdes: Zambrotta, Sylvinho, Thuram, Oleguer: Xavi, Toure, Iniesta: Ronaldinho, Ezquerro, Eto'o.  Subs: Belletti, Motta, Crosas, Valiente, Maxi Lopez, Delgado, Henry, Olmo, Bojan, Dos Santos, Deco, Abidal, Jorquera, Olazabel.

Hearts: Gordon: Karpidis, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Tall; Makela, Stewart, Kingston, Ksanavicius; Velicka. Subs: Banks, Neilson, McCann, McGowan, Jonsson, Beniusis, Mikoliunas, Ivaskevicius, Palazuelos, Pospisil, Elliot.

Referee: Dougie McDonald